Heeding the Cry for Paid Parent Leave

According to comments made by President Barack Obama at Tuesday’s State of the Union address, access to mandatory paid leave could be the next key political issue. Particular emphasis was placed on leave related to the family. In 2013, the Bureau of Labor Statistics used census data to analyze households with children under the age of 18. In 59% of these households, both parents are employed. In 54% of households with children under the age of 6, both parents work.

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The International Foundation’s Employee Benefits Survey 2014, the fourth offering in its benefit benchmarking series, examined a number of paid and unpaid leave benefits and flexible workplace offerings. For this post, the Research Department looked at the initiatives of over 250 organizations in the corporate sector.

  • About 93% of respondents offer paid sick leave, either as a standalone plan or as part of a paid-time-off bank. In standalone plans, respondents offer an average of 11 days per year.
  • Less than half (49%) of surveyed corporations offer flexible workhours or compressed workweeks.
  • About four in nine (44%) offer telecommuting at their organizations, making a work/family balance more possible.
  • Over 40% of organizations offer paid personal days.
  • Twenty-two percent of responding corporations offer formal paid parental/family leave.
  • One in six (16%) organizations offer paid adoption leave.
  • Less than 9% of organizations offer paid leave to attend a child’s activities.

In addition to paid leave benefits, organizations are commonly offering unpaid leave benefits.

  • Over one in three (34%) organizations offer unpaid leave beyond the 12 weeks required by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
  • Organizations are almost twice as likely (26%) to offer unpaid adoption leave versus paid.
  • Almost one in four (24%) offer unpaid leave to attend a child’s activities.

Will government intervention prove necessary to meet the demands of the working family? On an international level, paid family leave is extremely prevalent. The U.S. is one of only three countries without paid maternity leave. However, state and local proposals have been met with criticism, citing excessive costs.

Stay tuned for updates, as this could be a crucial issue in the 2016 presidential election. Changes are possible but will most likely move slowly. So, sorry exhausted new parents. According to our data, only 2% of surveyed organizations offer at-work nap rooms. Fortunately, 74% of responding organizations offer coffee service, so perk up!

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